The United States Navy has made a huge leap forward in advancing the quality of the submarine fleet. In an announcement on April 28 women are now to be integrated into the submarine force of the Navy! This move is only going to enlarge the pool of qualified and available candidates to increase the performance level of the fleet under the sea.
The first whisperings of women on US submarines came in April of 2008 when an announcement was made to possibly man, or woman, two new Virginia class submarines with all female crews. The move now is integration into co-ed crews. However, in 2008 the altruistic nature of the move was questioned as the case of Bishop vs. State of Connecticut was set to be seen in the Supreme Court. The case in question was posed due to the limitations placed on a woman's naval career without the option of submarine duty.
In the international community women have been on active duty in submarines since 1985 when Norway allowed women onto conventional subs. Australia, Canada, Spain and Sweden also have females in submarine crews. The first female sub commander was a Norwegian woman in 1995, Solveig Krey. With 15% of the US navy personnel being of the female gender it is appropriate that moves are now being made to integrate them into one of the last all male sectors of the fleet.
The announcement made at Kurgs Bay Naval Submarine Base indicated that the first women would be on the subs in 2012, with the influx being strictly at the officer level on guided missile attack subs and ballistic missile subs as they encompass the most living space. It is said that there will be four subs total that will be home to the ladies with 24 women included in the rotating shifts. However there is also talk of have three women officers on each of the eight Trident sub crews. There is still no timeline for the inclusion of enlisted women in the crews as that would mean modifications of separate bunks and bathrooms.
USS Alaska Lt Cmdr Daniel Lombardo thinks that "adjustments for the crew will be minor" and really sees no great degree of impending problems. Wednesday night passed without any outcry from Washington, signaling that Congress was not to object. The largest group of outcries has come from the wives of male submarine sailors, contesting whether their husbands will be losing jobs just so the government can integrate women into the system, not to mention their 'under their breath' concerns about harassment allegations and the like. The concerns are only quelled by claims that the professionalism of the modern navy and the quality of personnel that defend the nation should give us faith in the ability of this integration to be successful. Who are we to question that? Furthermore, Rear Adm Barry Bruner, a strong advocate for the integration, reiterates that change is good and nothing will move forward without much forethought and planning. So ladies, welcome to the undersea fraternity!